Open internet advocates see net neutrality as an important component of a free and accessible internet. They assert that a regulated internet would destroy its very purpose, which is to provide a space where ideas and information can circulate freely. However, a pending decision by the Federal Communications Commission, which aims to create faster lanes for online information, might change all of that. The anticipated decision would allow content providers to purchase faster download speeds for higher prices, leaving startups and other small organizations behind.
“It’s absolutely critical that we have a way for people to communicate that’s not biased based on their wealth or the size of their organization,” said Campaign Coordinator at Roots Action, David Swanson. “…If the internet is turned into a realm that prioritizes whatever major corporations have to say, then the internet is going to look more like television, or radio, or major newspapers. It’s not going to be an alternative to that very limited range of viewpoints.”
Roots Action, an online initiative that supports public interest, banded with a number of other organizations on January 2014 and collected over 1 million signatures on a petition demanding that net neutrality be protected, and delivered it to the FCC.
“The [FCC] chairman, Tom Wheeler made comments about it to the effect of how wonderful it was as if he agreed with our petition and this was an indication of what the internet is good for and so forth,” said Swanson. “Clearly he didn’t mean it and has now acted to the contrary. We’re going to have to take resistance to this policy offline and into other venues as well as continuing to push online.”
The Roots Action team has set up an e-mail action page where consumers can send e-mails to FCC commissioners on the net neutrality subject. The campaign was promoted in conjunction with public interest advocate group, Demand Progress. Last Thursday, the campaign caught the attention of 40,000 users who sent e-mails to FCC members, and shared their comments and concerns.
“Interestingly, on Friday a software company that our organization and many others use, went down for much of the day and people were unable to take action,” added Swanson.
Roots Action will send out e-mails today to let people know of the traffic issues they experienced on Friday, and warn that this could be an experience they’ll often have if net neutrality is eliminated.
Consumers will have the opportunity to sign the petition again, said Swanson. He went on to say that 45,000 people have taken action so far and Roots Action expects for that number to increase this Tuesday.
A decision by the FCC is anticipated May 15th of 2014, and some groups have stated they will be protesting against a closed internet that very day in Washington D.C.
“We have two weeks in which to do this before a decision may get made,” said Swanson. “It’s going to be much harder to undo something like this than to prevent it in the first place.”